The SFFaudio Podcast #347 – READALONG: The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick

December 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #347 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s show:
1962, Jesse and Paul’s first ever Philip K. Dick novel, rush reading, Juliana Frink, the book within the book, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, The Book Of Changes, the book that we are within, more like something Olaf Stapledon would write, future histories vs. alternate histories, what the Japanese and Nazis have done, For Want Of A Nail by Robert Sobel, Mexico, a very odd strange alternate history, a textbook from an alternate world, acharacteristic Dick, The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich, jewelry, taken from his life, Anne Dick, a soul wrenching scene, soul churning horrific embarrassing, working retail, R. Childan is horrible, he’s a monster, the least Philip K. Dick book, not a lot of boobs (but still some), not that much coffee, why this book is so powerful, we are so close to the characters souls, sympathy, who is the main character of this book?, Juliana, R. Childan, Mr. Baynes, Frank, Mr. Tagomi, so little interaction between the characters, we don’t know it is Frank, a clever move, everybody is fake, R. Childan is not Robert Childan, he speech pattern and thought pattern are Japanese, a lack of pronouns, Dick is a chameleon, Paul and Betty, the authentic American experience, soaking up, that’s not their names, Paul and Betty Kasura are more American than the American, Juliana is a fake judo instructor, she uses a knife, Hawthorne Abendsen, we know where he lives, Hawthorne Abendsen is Robert A. Heinlein for Dick (and Dick himself), children, Heinlein’s house in Colorado, Heinlein had loaned Dick money, Dick owed money to the IRS, We Can Build You, “To Robert and Ginny Heinlein…”, Wyoming, Dick is buried in Colorado, Fort Morgan, Colorado, Riverside Cemetery, damn, Dick’s sister, mom and dad, D.C., agrarian agronomy?, California, the dedication, “To my wife Anne, without whose silence…”, the jewelry business, getting excited, a bit sulky and a little bitter, a line from Childan’s mind, this sounds like its true,

They’re out of their minds, Childan said to himself. Example: they won’t help a hurt man up from the gutter due to the obligation it imposes. What do you call that? I say that’s typical; just what you’d expect from a race that when told to duplicate a British destroyer managed even to copy the patches on the boiler as well as—

the stamp on the boiler “Made in Aberdeen” or whatever, is this a true fact?, the objects, the pistol, Ed and Frank, the fake pistols are real pistols, the two lighters, Roosevelt’s lighter, historicity, historically interesting, the provenance, superstition of historicity, the real McCoy, you feel it, if Mr. Tagomi’s civil war era replica revolver can do the job…, Dick’s theme for the whole book, the theme that he’s always engaging, this stuff, actual facts of history, these events happened, the answer in this particular case…, historific truth, afraid to ask the question, this truth about the world, strangely meta-fictional, Tagomi escapes the meta-fictional world, a true and genuine object, the real state of affairs, cars and the freeway, our world is a nightmare, a depressing two world Cold War between the U.S. and England, C.M. Kornbluth’s Two Dooms, set in the 1940s, a future where the U.S. has lost the war, an alternate broken U.S., captured by the Germans, secret Jewish magical power, the world if we don’t is too terrible to contemplate, a repeated scene (or feeling), Mr. Baynes on the rocket, from Europe to San Fransisco, Lotze,”Oh, yes; that’s so. But racially, you’re quite close. For all intents and purposes the same.”

Lotze began to stir around in his seat, getting ready to unfasten the elaborate belts.

Am I racially kin to this man? Baynes wondered. So closely so that for all intents and purposes it is the same? Then it is in me, too, the psychotic streak. A psychotic world we live in. The madmen are in power. How long have we known this? Faced this? And-how many of us do know it? Not Lotze. Perhaps if you know you are insane then you are not insane. Or you are becoming sane, finally. Waking up. I suppose only a few are aware of all this. Isolated persons here and there. But the broad masses… what do they think? All these hundreds of thousands in this city, here. Do they imagine that they live in a sane world? Or do they guess, glimpse, the truth… ?

But, he thought, what does it mean, insane ? A legal definition. What do I mean? I feel it, see it, but what is it?

He thought, It is something they do, something they are. It is-their unconsciousness. Their lack of knowledge about others. Their not being aware of what they do to others, the destruction they have caused and are causing. No, he thought. That isn’t it, I don’t know; I sense it, intuit it. But-they are purposely cruel … is that it? No. God, he thought. I can’t find it, make it clear. Do they ignore parts of reality? Yes. But it is more. It is their plans. Yes, their plans. The conquering of the planets. Something frenzied and demented, as was their conquering of Africa, and before that, Europe and Asia.

Their view; it is cosmic. Not of a man here, a child there, but air abstraction: race, land. Volk. Land. Blut. Ehre. Not of honorable men but of Ehre itself, honor; the abstract is real, the actual is invisible to them. Die G?e , but not good men, this good man. It is their sense of space and time. They see through the here, the now, into the vast black deep beyond, the unchanging. And that is fatal to life. Because eventually there will be no life; there was once only the dust particles in space, the hot hydrogen gases, nothing more, and it will come again. This is an interval, ein Augenblick . The cosmic process is hurrying on, crushing life back into the granite and methane; the wheel turns for all life. It is all temporary. And they-these madmen-respond to the granite, the dust, the longing of the inanimate; they want to aid Natur.

he is a fucking Nazi!, at this point in the book…, he says he’s Jewish, is he Jewish?, a character is introduced.. the become who they really are, Joe Cinadella is an Italian who becomes an SS Aryan assassin, he’s becoming something, his genuine self, he’s actually an Italian who changes into a Nazi, transformation not revelation, Joe tells us about his family, what kind of music he like, an elaborate provenance?, Jesse thinks that Dick didn’t know who Joe was when he began writing, he became what he was in the book and world, Mr. Baynes is transformed, they actually are that way as well, the playing out of reality is undetermined, particle-wave duality, a “waveicle”, when you measure him a certain way, the truth is “revealed” collapsing the wavefront, observation determines the reality, the characters are in superposition state until Dick cast the yarrow stalks, when the world does it, Baynes is a Swede and a Jew and a Nazi, his elaborate cover, all of the characters are like that, Abendsen deflects, “I just murdered a man for you”, it happened to Heinlein, he’s almost inviting it, everybody knows his address, why does the SS send a Nazi hitman to kill this guy?, that’s not how they work, why is he telling Mr. Tagomi?, a stalking horse, Tagomi is a chess pawn, the most humane person, when Tagomi defies the German ambassador, the guy he frees is the guy who created the object, karmic circularity, changing as they are perceived, Nazism factionalized, a lot of technical terms, Dick did a lot of reading, the Abwehr, the SD, layers of terminology, Reinhard Heydrich, basically Hitler did a shitty job, draining the Mediterranean, skulls for cups, a sequel would have to be set in the Nazi part of things, sensitive and sympathetic, Speer, “yes he did slave labor, but he didn’t enjoy it.”, the two completed chapters of the proposed sequel, Herman Goering, Admiral Canaris, that sounds like a Dick novel (and a role playing game), GURPS Infinite Worlds, spreading Nazism to other worlds, staying in the heads of all these Nazis all the time, Heydrich sent Joe, Lotze is also an SD agent, everything is fake with a secret inside, internecine-Nazi?, the pilot for the Amazon series, it almost has no connection to the book, it’s about that piece of jewelry, it’s not a book it’s a movie, for the TV series, Paul’s guess… Abendsen has a portal to our world, sign Paul up, a little bit too fluffy and light, the Minority Report TV show is a trainwreck, you can’t really adapt this book, in development for a long time, Ridley Scott, a late-70s I, Claudius version shot on videotape, as soon as you start looking at what this book is actually about…, the American antiques thing is missing, Philip K. Dick reviewing his own novel, like a pair of glasses, what the book does to us, Paul’s speech about the pin, seeing into Childan’s head, they all laughed, this crappy play, what a monster you are, he’s been made a fool, false hopes dashed, Jesse replaces the words “pin or object” with “fiction or novel” and thus find’s Dick’s review of The Man In The High Castle within The Man In The High Castle, mere content deprived of form, it somehow partakes of tao, this novel has made its peace with the universe, this book has wu, by contemplating it we gain more wu ourselves, since we last about PKD, stones rejected by the builder, a rusty beer can by the side of the road, I have pondered this novel unceasingly, isn’t that exactly what he’s doing here?, it doesn’t have form, so true, Jesse thinks Dick was wrong, Dick almost never did anything like a sequel, think about how Hawthorne Abensen, this is Dick’s first real success, “give us more of the same” (the book industry as we know it), “I’m not sad”, The Ganymede Takeover by Philip K. Dick and Ray Faraday Nelson, formless and amorphous, this plotting gels so well, the I, Ching helped him, A Scanner Darkly, taken from life, a writer who is pretending to be a criminal, an organic shape, “what’s really going on here?”, she’s saying it right here, when Joe comes back with that haircut, at the heart of this novel, the two real action scenes, when Juliana is with Joe, he is sane and she is the opposite, she goes into the bathroom to kill herself, casting those yarrow stalks, Juliana’s last decision she makes, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy Ecclesiastes 12:5, “and the grasshopper shall be a burden”, a tiny little thing will have a great weight, the title of the book itself, why is the book called “The Man In The High Castle”?, the end of Farnham’s Freehold, “barbed wire and machine guns”, a meditative smile, he’s lying, he’s going to sit down when he meets Christ, it sounds like Heinlein, Juliana is literal minded and can’t understand Abensen’s jokes, are her boobs real?, she’s in post traumatic shock, the hymn,

Let us love our God supremely,
Let us love each other too;
Let us love and pray for sinners,
Till our God makes all things new
Then he’ll call us home to heaven,
At his table we’ll sit down.
Christ will gird himself and serve us
With sweet manna all around.

they never lived in a high castle, Abensen is fated to what will happen, this happened to Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger In A Strange Land, Popular Mechanics showed Heinlein’s house, a kid’s bicycle in the driveway, Dick gave Heinlein a kid, Heinlein tried to treat everyone with respect, for Heinlein every race is worthy, weird ideas about sex and gender, an equal rights for all races, equal dignity, the Vietnam War, when hippies start showing up on his door, just like when Juliana shows up, when Juliana calls, they don’t call the police and kick her out, pilgrims to Dick’s house, “he wants me to go to his house and say hi”, before you do that…, just to stand there and feel the historicity, where he came to rest, the final gloss, a fake high castle, the high castle is the skull, who is the man in the high castle?, the mind trapped within the skull looking out, Dick was never satisfied, zoology and philosophy, Plato’s Myth of the Cave, chained to the floor since birth, behind them are people carrying various objects on their heads and walking by, and behind them are fires, the believe the shadows on the wall are the real world, if one should manage to escape…, they wouldn’t believe, Juliana says I’m one of the few, Baynes says it too, what’s the TRUTH about this world, in fact it’s only me when writing this book, unlike Lovecraft or Poe, the intertextual thing going on, written by Heinlein or Pohl (or Kornbluth), peak performance of this particular feeling, this is the PKD book you can hand to anybody who has read a little bit of history, as the facts unfold, even that reality is fake, the George Guidall narration, the little prologue, that recording is from 1997, audiobooks at that time, the traditional market (for audiobooks) was the blind, a standard trope that has disappeared now, the back of the dust-jacket, a singular mark of American literature, an amazing book, re-reading it, so many layers, we’re done.

The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Beast of Calatrava

June 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Beast of CalatravaThe Beast of Calatrava: A Foreworld SideQuest
By Mark Teppo; Read by Luke Daniels
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: 26 February 2013
[UNABRIDGED] – 4 hours

Themes: / Mongoliad / knights Templar / alternate history / fantasy / Foreworld /

Publisher summary:

After a battle left Ramiro Ibáñez de Tolosa’s face terribly disfigured, the knight of the Order of Calatrava abandoned his sword for a pastoral existence. But his beastly appearance horrifies all those who cross his path — with the exception of his adoring and pregnant wife. Can he keep Louisa and their unborn child safe from the war that is coming to Iberia? As Ramiro prepares for his child’s birth, Brother Lazare of the Cistercian order searches for a means to inspire men as he travels with the crusading Templars. He seeks swords of legend — named blades carried by heroes of old — believing such symbols have the ability to rally men in a way no king could ever accomplish. But when he learns of the stories told of the mysterious monster that haunts the Iberian battlefields, he wonders what sort of power this new legend might contain — the legend of a man whose scarred face and cold demeanor cannot hide his heroic soul. 

Note: This book is available individually (as I listened to it) or as a part of the book SideQuest Adventures No. 1, which includes The Lion in Chains, this story, and The Shield-Maiden: A Foreworld SideQuest.

As with The Lion in Chains, this story is a “SideQuest” in the Foreworld Saga, basically a side story to the main-line books intended to give readers more information on certain characters. Unfortunately, unlike The Lion in Chains, even after I finished the book, I wasn’t 100% certain where this fit within the grand scheme of the world. The main characters in this story were not in the main Mongoliad books, and without taking some time to look at the print/ebook versions of this and the other books, I’m not sure I could draw a straight-line reference. I’m equally uncertain as to when, relatively speaking, this book takes place (relative to the events in The Mongoliad: Book One).

More frustratingly, I found myself lost while listening to this story. As happened other times during my reading of the Mongoliad main-series books, it was easy to get confused as to which character was which and who was who. If I haven’t said it before, this is a series begging for a good wiki with a character roster, and possibly a map. While these things may show up in a print/ebook edition, they were not easy to find on the web for quick perusal while listening (at least, I couldn’t easily find anything). The overall thrust is that it’s a story about a former knight, abandoned for dead when his order was defeated, who has turned into “The Beast of Calatrava,” basically a disfigured killer, killing to protect his property and the people (generally) of Iberia, no matter their creed. In parallel, the Templars have arrived in Iberia on a crusade, and brought with them some other soldiers, including some monks, on the search for a legendary weapon. Much of the book is dedicated to The Beast’s personal demons and the growing tension in the “Christian Army” that includes the Templars, monks, and other religious figures, and moves these characters around like chess pieces in seemingly unrelated matches. In the last 30 minutes or so of the audiobook, the story lines somewhat converge, and the ending comes more or less as might be expected.

I don’t know what to say about this story. It really seemed to wander, and was hard to follow along. While I was somewhat used to this in the main Foreworld books, I was able to accept temporary confusion, knowing it would get brought together later, and that my persistence would pay dividends. In this story, with everything being self-contained, that payoff wasn’t there, and in the grand scheme, I’m not sure why much other than the last 30 minutes of the story made any difference…and, since this story doesn’t relate directly to the main-line books, it didn’t feel like it made “sense” in the bigger picture. Without the tie-in to the larger world, this could have been any story set in the same world, so therefore didn’t feel as satisfying.

It will be interesting to see how the final book in SideQuest Adventures No. 1 plays out, whether it will be more like the first story (which was great) or this one (which was unsatisfying).

Posted by terpkristin.

Review of 1634: The Baltic War by Eric Flint and David Weber

May 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Cover art for 16341634: The Baltic War
By Eric Flint and David Weber; Read by George Guidall
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 17 September 2013
[UNABRIDGED] – 26 hours 20 minutes
Themes: / alternate history / time travel / military

1634: The Baltic War, although a weighty volume in its own right, is but one stitch in the giant tapestry that is Eric Flint’s sweeping Ring of Fire series. The series imagines the tumultuous Thirty Years War in seventeenth-century Europe disrupted by the arrival of a small West Virginia town sent back in time from the year 2000 by a freak cosmic accident. As masterfully told in the series opener 1632, the injection of modern technology and ideas into this bleak post-Reformation world has immediate and far-reaching consequences. The synopsis for 1634: The Baltic War illustrates just how much things have changed.

The Baltic War which began in the novel 1633 is still raging, and the time-lost Americans of Grantville – the West Virginia town hurled back into the seventeenth century by a mysterious cosmic accident – are caught in the middle of it.

Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden and Emperor of the United States of Europe, prepares a counter-attack on the combined forces of France, Spain, England, and Denmark – former enemies which have allied in the League of Ostend to destroy the threat to their power that the Americans represent – which are besieging the German city of Luebeck.

Elsewhere in war-torn Europe, several American plans are approaching fruition. Admiral Simpson of Grantville frantically races against time to finish the USE Navy’s ironclad ships – desperately needed to break the Ostender blockade of the Baltic ports. A commando unit sent by Mike Stearns to England prepares the rescue the Americans being held in the Tower of London.

In Amsterdam, Rebecca Stearns continues three-way negotiations with the Prince of Orange and the Spanish Cardinal-Infante who has conquered most of the Netherlands. And, in Copenhagen, the captured young USE naval officer Eddie Cantrell tries to persuade the King of Denmark to break with the Ostender alliance, all while pursuing a dangerous romantic involvement with one of the Danish princesses.

This overview gives a sense of the novel’s sweeping scope, both geographically and in terms of content. In some ways, this book and the series as a whole brings to mind Neal Stephenson’s ambitious Baroque Cycle, but while Stephenson’s work focuses on scientific and cultural developments Flint and Weber, at least in this volume, are telling a story of war. This isn’t to say that culture is absent from the chapters of 1634. Indeed, the novel draws both insight and humor from the juxtaposition of modern popular culture and European values. In one early scene, for example, a concert features classic Baroque harpsichord followed by a modernist piano concerto featuring music by Chopin and closing with twentieth-century Christmas songs. It’s also amusing to hear Europeans try and puzzle out exactly who this Elvis Presley character was.

While, as I said, 1634: The Baltic War is a military novel, and does feature occasional scenes of violence and hardship, overall its tone is light and even casual despite the depth and complexity of the book’s subject matter. While this renders the book almost instantly accessible, I can’t help but feel that at times the lack of gravitas fails to do justice to the enormity (in its original sense) of the Thirty Years War. To return to the previous comparison, Stephenson’s writing in the Baroque Cycle is much more opaque and, well, baroque, but the style seems to suit the subject matter. On the plus side, the story benefits from Eric Flint’s considerable experience in writing alternate history along with David Weber’s military background. Despite the world’s massive scope, every corner of it feels lived in and fleshed out.

George Guidall takes on the arduous task of bringing together seventeenth- and twentieth-century characters and cultures in this melting pot of a novel, and as usual Guidall is up to the challenge. From the brusk military clip of Admiral Simpson to the slight lilt of the larger-than-life Gustavus Adolphus, Guidall makes every element of the story from both past and present come alive.

Listeners who love military fiction, alternate history, or time travel can’t go wrong with 1634: The Baltic War, though to fully appreciate the novel they would do well to begin with the first installment in the Ring of Fire series, 1632. As perhaps is inevitable with a series of this magnitude, there are flaws and aspects that fail to please. But this book is only one chapter in what might just be Eric Flint’s magnum opus.

Posted by Seth Wilson

The SFFaudio Podcast #191 – READALONG: The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick

December 17, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #191 – Jesse, Tamahome, and Jenny talk about the Brilliance Audio audiobook, The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s podcast:
Racy?, 1950s, hermaphrodites, relativism is mandated by the government, reverse Nazism, the Wikipedia entry for relativism, relativism as a tool against disbelief, L. Ron Hubbard, The Way To Happiness, communism, “good explorations”, Doug Cussick, political correctness, the opposite of communism?, China, Chinese communism, WWII, “Hitler was a precog”, escape your fate by embracing your fate, seeing into the future after your death, the devolution of a mind in a dead brain, a molluscular and mineral afterlife, grab bag of ideas, giant alien jellyfish, Brilliance Audio, pollen?, spores?, polyps?, planula!, Floyd Jones (is he the hero?), the Venus babies, the people in the Womb, seven mutants in a warehouse in San Fransisco, artificial animals, Venusian wallpaper?, hot and moist, The Truman Show, people have to get off of Earth, the Moon as the 51st state, King Newt running the Moon, pantropy, tropism, genetic modification, Nexus by Ramez Naam, More Than Human by Ramez Naam, Kim Stanley Robinson, More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon, the ending, Jones as the new Jesus, contempt for the audience, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, kids getting off on power, suicide, Hitler’s death, “how could a precog be wrong?”, future knowledge of your own knowledge, its very confusing, is Cussick the main character?, rebellion by shoplifting, sexism, WWIII, “asparagus sucks!”, women as litmus paper, she always held the majority opinion, visiting a racist elderly relative, “No grandma! That’s wrong!”, irony, the nameless character has a fascinating story, why don’t we get a sense of the masses, paralleling the rise of Hitler, lebensraum, interesting scenes interspersed with less interesting scenes, domestic scenes vs. organizational scenes, Tyler’s story, the Venus children, paranoia, Shell Game by Philip K. Dick, redundant exists, The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch, Counter Clock World, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, The Zap Gun, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, Blade Runner, Robert Downey Jr., A Scanner Darkly, The Man In The High Castle, alternate history, most people who live in SF universes don’t read SF, a BBC adaptation of The Man In The High Castle, an epic story about a guy who makes jewelry, Terry Gilliam, Anthony Boucher, “a hasty and disappointing effort”, perk up vs. zone out, civil war or aliens?, a golden land of opportunity and adventure (and slime).

ACE - The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick

Damon Knight on The World Jones Made

ACE Double - The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick

Sphere - The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick

Geheimproject Venus by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #189 – Tim Prasil’s MARVELLOUS BOXES

December 3, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastDecoder Ring TheatreMarvellous BoxesThe SFFaudio Podcast #189 – Jesse, Tamahome, Jenny, and Tim Prasil talk about the six episode anthology series Marvellous Boxes, recorded and podcast by Decoder Ring Theatre. But first we play an episode, Facing Cydonia.

Talked about on today’s show:
The Magic Of The Movies, The Crasher, horror, stage play (post Meridian Radio Players), Thinking In Trinary, Decoder Ring Theatre, Gregg Taylor, the Cobol Club, OTR, radio commercials, flash fiction, CBC, The Age Of Persuasion, “Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!”, Plotting For Perfection (the short story), stage play, the Vera Van Slyke stories, occult detectives, Fitz-James O’Brien, audio dramatizations of the Vera Van Slyke stories, Black Jack Justice, The Red Panda Adventures, why be locked into the 1/2 hour audio drama format?, A Demon Once Removed, a one set one act play, Nicole (the peripheral character with a personality), Chekhov’s Gun, an alternate history, “Gregg Taylor need not be played by Gregg Taylor”, Orson Welles, history, Frozen Words Thawed, Remembering The Martians, an all black cast of MacBeth, The War Of The Worlds, H.G. Wells, The Tempest (as an alien contact story), William Shakespeare, a controversy over the character names in Facing Cydonia, Jenny will sing us a song, the boxes, “are there more boxes in you?”, ghosts, the button, the wax cylinder recorder, the Piltdown Man hoax, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, an authentic hoax, Conan Doyle is the most gullible, the Cottingley Fairies, FairyTale: A True Story, Harry Houdini, Terry Jones, Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book, the EULA on wax cylinders, Thomas Edison, the most science-fictiony story, Plotting For Perfection, a femme fatale story without the femme fatale, “talk about your retro-causality”, “a box with a hole in it”, Andrea Lyons?, Scene Of The Crime, Remembering The Martians, racism, difference, tolerance, Doctor Who – The Power Of Three, fish people, are the Martians really dead?, binary fission, fruitful names, Jacob, Jason, Easter eggs, Finbar, The Silver Tongued Devil, The Sonic Society, Roger Gregg, it’s a pseudo-documentary, a joke/haiku, “conclusions should be drawn with a pencil not a pen”, Aliens Are Like Mirages, “it’s an indictment I’m just not sure what it’s an indictment of”, “if we had this power would we use it?”, the curiousness of the chaplaincy, prequels are for readers not writers, the miracle, the yup, human history in a nutshell, To Serve Man, narrative structure, why is X-Minus One a good name?, Marvellous Boxes as a name doesn’t have a super-punch, steampunky, “steamy contraptions”, Murdoch Mysteries (CBC TV), “a little less steam and a little more electricity”, Netflix in Canada sucks, Weeds, Walk Off The Earth.

Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From The Living Dead by Max Brooks

September 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From The Living Dead by Max BrooksThe Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From The Living Dead
By Max Brooks; Read by Marc Cashman
Approx. 8 Hours 38 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: September 12, 2006
ISBN: 9780739342725
Themes: / Zombies / Humor / Horror / Apocalypse /

The next time a Class 2 zombie outbreak occurs in my neighborhood, I’ll be well-prepared to deal with the shambling corpses of hungry undead now that I’ve read Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From The Living Dead.

The Zombie Survival Guide dispels exaggerated myths and legends of the undead and instead presents the reader with unvarnished “truths” about zombies. You’ll find information on zombies’ physical strength, sight, hearing, and rate of decay, and the pros and cons of various weaponry for battling the undead (everything from medieval maces and claymores, to M-16s and flamethrowers). It describes various scenarios for identifying early signs of localized (Class 1) outbreaks, to full-blown widespread undead infestation (Class 3). You’ll find best practices for battling zombies in urban settings, in harsh desert and swamp environments, even under the sea. The Zombie Survival Guide tells you how to defend your home by stocking up with key food and supplies and moving to your second floor and destroying all staircases (recommend for Class 2), or how to survive on the run as you move to the most remote and therefore safest parts of the planet in a world-wide zombie apocalypse in which mankind is overrun (Class 4). The best vehicle should an outbreak occur? You might not guess it, but it’s a bicycle. On a bike you can easily outrun the slow, slouching pace of zombies, it will never run out of gas, you can carry a bicycle over rough terrain, and you can maneuver a bike through the inevitable traffic jams that accompany a full-on panic. Motorcycles are very good too, though their noise attracts the undead. Boats are also a secure means of travel, says Brooks, but watch your anchor line—zombies walking on the ocean floor can use it to climb up to your boat. “Hundreds” of hapless victims have died this way, Brooks tells us.

The Zombie Survival Guide serves as a perfect gateway to Brooks’ highly recommended World War Z |READ OUR REVIEW|. If for nothing else, and you find Brooks’ post-apocalyptic strategems and survival tactics tedious, I’d recommend this book simply for the highly entertaining “Recorded Outbreaks” section. Here Brooks describes various zombie outbreaks throughout history, from ancient tales recorded in chilling primitive artwork, all the way up through living eyewitness accounts from the early 21st century. These are written in the economical journalism style that Brooks’ employs so effectively in World War Z, lending these “outbreaks” a documentary-style feel, which makes them seem more realistic and terrifying. According to Brooks there have been many zombie outbreaks throughout history—perhaps even in my neighborhood, hence my need to be ready—but these have been largely laughed off by skeptical media, ascribed to outbreaks of disease, localized madness, or industrial pollution, or covered up by governments or the CDC, fearful that public knowledge would result in full-scale panic.

For all its earnestness you have to take The Zombie Survival Guide with a heavy dose of salt. While it’s written in a deadpan style and never descends into farce, and purports to be a “real” guide for complete protection against the walking dead, when you read passages like “If you want to know the true danger of an airborne (parachute) attack against zombies, try dropping a square centimeter of meat on a swarming anthill. Chances are, that meat will never touch the ground. In short, air support is just that—support. People who believe it to be a war-winner have no business planning, orchestrating, or participating in any conflict with the living dead,” you can’t help but laugh (I did laugh out loud, several times). While not as well-written or as compelling as World War Z, for zombie aficionados The Zombie Survival Guide is nevertheless a must-read.

Marc Cashman narrates with a dry, clipped voice that perfectly suits the how-to nature of The Zombie Survival Guide. There’s a touch of William Shatner in his delivery, with dramatic pauses in odd places, but that only adds to the fun.

Posted by Brian Murphy

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